Understanding Sand Wasps: Do They Pose a Sting Threat?

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Sand wasps are found all over America, and an encounter with them is not uncommon here. But do they sting? Let’s find out.

With more than 1200 species populating North America and Mexico, the sand wasp is a common wasp identified by its peculiar nesting habit.

As the name suggests, sand wasps are diggers who create nests in the sand and usually keep to themselves in the wild.

But are they dangerous to you? Let us tell you something about how careful you should be around them.

Sand Wasps - Do They Sting

What Are Sand Wasps?

Sand wasps belong to the genus Bembix, wasps that are part of the Crabronisae family. These are solitary wasps that are abundant in North America and grow up to an inch long.

The wasps can be recognized by their black and white color or pale green and yellow, making them similar to bees.

Sand wasps can be found in a number of places – urban areas, forests, and woodlands.

Unlike yellow jackets and paper wasps, they are not social wasps and can usually be found making their nests alone, even though the nests might be close to each other.

These wasps like to hunt large flies such as horseflies, deer flies, and tachinids and carry them to their nests to lay their eggs and feed their sand wasp larvae.

As the larva grows, they keep adding more and more flies for it until it is ready to pupate. 

Do They Sting?

Sand wasps are capable of delivering extremely painful stings, but they are not very aggressive in nature.

In most cases, sand wasps will only attack humans if they feel their nest is threatened.

These wasps have a powerful sting that they use to paralyze their prey, making it easier to drag the prey to their nest. Common house flies have been known as their prey of preference.

Sand Wasps - Do They Sting

Are They Dangerous?

The simple answer to this question is no! Sand wasps are solitary insects that nest in sandy soils and collect their own food.

They do not have hives or colonies, and the female does the nesting work alone, where they lays eggs.

Sand wasps do not have defensive behavior, and they will do their best to avoid any disturbance by working around it.

If you find them in a park or your house, usually they are trying to get out of the way. The wasps can be dangerous in large numbers, especially when children are playing around in the sand.

Are They Aggressive?

Sand wasps are timid insects who like to keep to themselves. Most of the time, the stings are accidental, and these guys don’t usually mean any harm.

They can become aggressive if they feel their nests are threatened if you step on them barefoot or if you dig up their nests in loose soil or sand.

What To Do If A Sand Wasp Stings You?

If you are unfortunately stung by one of the most docile wasps out there, you should know to look out for the signs.

A normal reaction to a sand wasp sting will be similar to that of a common wasp. Look out for redness, swelling, and pain and how long it lasts.

For allergic reactions, seek out medical attention immediately.

Sand Wasp Sting Reaction

Different people have different reactions to a sand wasp sting or any insect sting, for that matter. These reactions can include swelling and normal or allergic reactions.

Here are some things you should do as preventive measures:

Normal wasp stings include moderate to the extreme pain, redness, and swelling around the area. It will last for a few hours and resolve on its own after using some kind of antidote.

Local stings have a more elaborate reaction, with swelling extending more than 4 inches. The pain and irritation can last more than five to ten days.

For people who have an allergic reaction to an insect sting, it can be very bad news. They should get immediate medical attention to avoid a fatal physical reaction.

Sand Wasps - Do They Sting

Sand Wasp Sting Treatment

Here are some effective home remedies that you can use to treat sand wasp stings:

  • Use an ice pack on the sting site for 20 minutes to release the swelling and pain.
  • Cutting an onion in half and placing the base on the sting site works to reduce the pain.
  • To neutralize the sting venom, any kind of basic substance like baking soda can prove effective. A thick paste of baking soda is recommended to be applied as a paste.
  • You can put vinegar on the sting, applying it with a cotton ball. The acidity of the vinegar helps to reduce the venom and helps with the swelling.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a sand wasp do to you?

Sand wasps are usually harmless to humans. They prefer to avoid humans and will not attack if not provoked.
These insects only attack humans if they feel themselves or their nests threatened. They can deliver a rather painful sting that might leave redness and swelling.

Do sand wasps fly?

Yes, sand wasps can fly. They have four wings and can fly about with a dizzying sound, mostly to attract females.
Since they are not social insects, they fly around from one place to another to find their food and build individual nests.

What kind of wasps live in the sand?

Wasps that live in the sand are a type of digger wasp. They dig up the soil to create their nests.
Certain thread-waisted wasps belonging to the Sphecidae family are digger wasps in character. These wasps dig their nests in loose and sandy soil with their pincer-like legs.

How deep do sand wasps burrow?

Sand wasps use their mandibles and legs to burrow their nests in the ground. They use these physical features to bite away chunks of the soil to whisk dirt and soil away.
These are solitary wasps that burrow on the ground by themselves to make a place to lay eggs and hide their prey.

Wrap Up

So, to sum up, our discussion, sand wasps are not a true threat to you. All you have to do is look out for them, and these wasps will not bother you with an unnecessary sting.

Getting out of a sand wasps way can save you a rather painful sting. Thank you for reading, and try not to dig around in the sand!


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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